Public opinion turns doubtful on the success of a Vancouver 2030 Winter Olympics bid

Public confidence in a Vancouver 2030 Olympic Winter Games bid has dropped significantly since the project was first conceived in early 2020, a new poll by Research Co. has revealed.

Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony (IOC Photo)
Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony (IOC Photo)

According to the survey released Monday only 43 per cent of those who responded across British Columbia said officials “definitely should” or “probably should” launch a bid to host the city’s second Games after the event was first staged in the Canadian city in 2010.  A further 45 per cent said a bid should not be launched while 12 per cent remained undecided.

The new results marks a 17 point drop in confidence from a similar poll taken in January 2020.  The online study taken from October 18 to October 20 among 800 adults in British Columbia has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

This news could mark the beginning of the end of the fledgling bid that has been spearheaded by Vancouver 2010 CEO John Furlong who has traveled the province to promote the opportunity that would breathe new life into legacy venues that were prepared for the first Games a decade ago.

Vancouver 2030 is being touted as a privately funded low-cost Games to be shared across the province, but B.C. residents still envision a tax bill at the end of it.  55 per cent of survey respondents believe that it is “impossible” to organize the event without public funds and only 33 per cent think the Games could be privately funded.

In a previous poll taken in April by Insights West, 55 per cent across the province said they would support a new bid for the Games, and that support skyrocketed to 77 per cent if the project is privately funded.

In the new survey B.C. residents showed even greater doubt about a 2036 Summer Games bid with only 38 per cent optimistic about bidding while 48 per cent rejected the idea and 14 per cent were unsure, that’s a 24 point drop from the 2020 poll.

Vancouver city council remained split on Vancouver 2030 during several debates over the past year until Mayor Kennedy Stewart deferred any decision-making to regional groups, and insisted that leadership come from First Nations.  The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) said it has locked its focus on teams competing at the Tokyo and Beijing Olympic Games and will not actively pursue a 2030 Winter Games bid until next year.

Waning interest in a Vancouver bid seems to be in response to the global pandemic and it’s impact on the recent postponed Tokyo 2020 Games.

“The events of the past couple of years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent experience of Tokyo as a host city, appear to have made British Columbians more skeptical about a new Olympic bid,” Mario Canseco of Research Co. said in a statement.

Escalating calls for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to move or cancel the Beijing 2022 Winter Games in response to China’s human right abuses, or for teams to boycott the event, may also be a factor in dampened interests in hosting a future Games.

In the poll only 48 per cent said they had a positive opinion of the IOC and 44 per cent said they agreed with the IOC’s decision to stage the Tokyo 2020 Games earlier this year.

The drop in optimism comes at a time when the 2030 Winter Games bids are moving into sharp focus for the IOC with the Beijing Winter Games kicking off in February and potential rivals taking their positions at the start line.  Salt Lake City in the United States is considered the frontrunner in the race with a target set on the 2030 or 2034 Games and officials there will be sending a powerful group to IOC headquarters in Switzerland on November 29.

Being an in-person gathering after months of online calls, the meeting is likely to be impactful and could end with significant decisions fateful for the race.  Earlier this year and without notice Brisbane was singled out by the IOC as a preferred bidder for the 2032 Games and the Australian city was awarded the event in July.  A visit by a high-level Australian delegation to IOC headquarters in September 2019 seemed to set the path for victory.

Salt Lake City is well-supported by all levels of government and has consistently polled very high among Utah residents.

A Spanish bid from Pyrenees-Barcelona is organizing but it has faced an active opposition group that is pushing for a referendum that government officials have already backed.

Sapporo in Japan is pushing forward with a 2030 bid that has been backed by Tokyo 2020 Chair Seiko Hashimoto, but that bid too may face a referendum to gauge interest after a spectator-free Summer Games costing tens of billion of dollars was held in the capital even as residents wanted the whole event cancelled.

Recently Ukraine has indicated interest in hosting a Winter Games in 2030 or beyond.

The IOC has no set timetable for the election of its hosts.  The organization engages in ‘continuous dialogue’ with interested parties until the right partner is found and recommended to the IOC Executive Board and the membership for approval.

The 2026 Olympic Winter Games will be held across Northern Italy by Milan-Cortina.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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